Creating good schematic/circuit diagrams

While a lot of this is beyond entry level developers, the principles are sound, and will help beginners understand how & why a good circuit schematic is so important during development and debugging / repait - and much more use than a Fritzy diagram or scribble.

This llink uses Eagle and Altium to demonstrate the methods and principles, but simple drawings can be achieved with paper & pen, or other basic tools - Visio etc, but won’t have the benefits available with a dedicated design suite.

Eagle has been popular for many years, with good reason. But if you start with Eagle, and eventually want to "go further", i.e. past a certain "beginner's level", then you have to start paying.

KiCad, on the other hand, is free forever. And has the same benefits as discussed above in the recommendation of Eagle and Altium (of which I know nothing, good or bad.)

Newcomers, should review Sparkfun’s schematic reading also.

IMHO a photo of a simple hand drawn diagram (or something put together with a drawing program) can be very informative with little or no learning curve.

I did this with Open Office Draw but it should be obvious that something very similar could easily be done with a pencil and paper.


It is taken from my Simple nRF24L01+ Tutorial

A newbie may also find this Simple Image Upload Guide useful.


Guidelines for Drawing Schematics

KiCad is terrible as it separates the components from their footprint which just creates unnecessary work if you intend to create PCBs. It also lacks a simple preview of the footprints when you’re picking them for parts which is just amazingly bad design. If you need to move parts around after wiring them up, the wires don’t move with the parts so you have to manual rewire everything. Mind-blowing stupid design.

Just awful. Especially for beginners.

Eagle is free for hobby use and the size limit of the free version is within the size limit of the $2 for 10 deal for JLCPCB and others with low cost options. You can also find plenty of component libraries for free on the internet and it’s trivial to turn the schematics into PCBs. Components already have the footprint attached and when picking parts it previews both the schematic image and the footprint so you know exactly what you’re selecting.

When just starting out, stick to simple designs with a handful of parts. Think of a schematic as a class in a program. Use standard connectors to connect multiple boards together if your project exceeds the size limitations. Chances are, your boards will be reused in different projects. For example, I have about a dozen boards I’ve designed that get mixed and matched depending on the project. If I had designed monolithic boards I’d constantly be ordering custom boards. I have an LED matrix board that can be used as an LED matrix, or, it can be combined with the power driver board to drive higher powered lights or other devices. The LED matrix would then be wired into the inputs of the driver board to trigger 12V devices instead of just lighting up LEDs directly.

If you intend to go pro and create very complex designs, the $100 per year for Eagle is a bargain.

Anybody tried EasyEDA. It is free. Need steady hands and keen eyesight to get the components connected.
It needs a lot of practice and patience to get the result.

Free online tool:


Often beginners create a schematic of what they THINK they have built, because that’s what they want !
The circuit diagram is a critical part of an assembly using two or more parts and should be considered BEFORE any wiring takes place. It provides a reference for diagnosis and future reference.

This thread was started to explain WHAT’S IMPORTANT to be contained in a schematic.
Not which tool, that’s kind of irrelevant, as they can all create rubbish if the content is ill-informed.

I've had to do a lot of electronic diagrams, once one person thought it was bad the way I separated the parts. This person liked to do the "all in one" scheme. Time passed, and then the person told me that it really was better to break down by sector, although there was a need to understand how the parts are linked.